Sunday, May 21, 2006

Day 46: Shaving Grandpa

One of the most memorable experiences in my life is the time I spent caring for my Grandpa in the last few years of his life. He had been paralyzed in half of his body for about 45 years prior to that time (the result of a car accident). When my Dad, my brothers and I first started taking turns helping with his care, we would go over in the morning, help him get out of bed, take a shower, change his bedding, shave his face, make sure he got his teeth in right and help him get dressed. Needless to say, it was a very tender thing to care for him in such a personal way. I particularly enjoyed shaving his face and putting after shave on him afterwards. I would often tease him about trying to impress Grandma with the after shave. When he was ready for the day you'd help him into his wheel chair and out to the kitchen for breakfast.

I remember one day going up to help Grandpa and he couldn't get out of bed anymore. The ritual changed. We learned to give him a sponge bath, change his clothes and change his bedding with him in the bed. At this point Grandpa's feet had become extremely sensitive and ticklish because of the lack of use and long-term paralysis. Putting his socks on was always an interesting experience.

It never ceased to amaze me how happy Grandpa was, how much love he felt for those around him and how grateful he was for the smallest thing. He couldn't speak much because of the paralysis. You were lucky to get more than a couple of words at a time from him. He would always say, "Thank you. Oh boy, thank you." His thank you meant so much. You could feel how deeply he meant it. It came often but always had that same impact.

Today as I think about those times when someone does for us what we don't have the power to do for ourselves. I remember many other times when I've received or given this type of assistance. No matter which side of the situation I'm on these experiences tend to be very personal, touching the tender parts of my soul. It is often a spiritual experience. I believe the spiritual nature of this special kind of service stems from the way it emulates the supreme service that Jesus Christ performed for all of God's children. He did for each of us what we could not do for ourselves. When we in turn do for others what they cannot do for themselves, we are emulating his miraculous gift to us. It is very tender, very personal and very individual.

I'm grateful for those tender moments spent doing for Grandpa what he could not do for himself. I'm thankful for all around me who do for others what they cannot do for themselves. I'm especially grateful for He who did for each of us what none of us can do for ourselves.

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